A Message from the Principal

24 February 2017

This week the Chronicle published an article in which they listed the number of OPs 1-5 achieved by schools in the Toowoomba Region. The report was unusual in that it listed total numbers of OPs achieved in this category as opposed to the percentage of OP eligible students who obtained these scores. The article also implies that schools that achieve these scores are of a better standard than those with a greater spread of OPs. I was disappointed that while we are listed as having 15 students who achieved scores in the range of 1 to 5, the article did not mention that this number represents 24% of our OP eligible students. I am personally more interested to know the percentage (not number) of students who were offered their first or second preference of tertiary course. When this information becomes available, I will share it with you.

Interestingly in 2016 across Queensland only 50.9% of students used the OP pathway to gain access to tertiary study. Our approach has been to take a personalised approach to provide expert individual guidance and support to every Glennie girl in order for them to achieve their chosen destination.Every student who finished Year 12 in 2016 did so with a pathway into a career; be that a university entrance through the OP or ranking pathway, a Certificate II or III, a diploma, traineeship or apprenticeship.  

At this point I would like to reiterate what we hold dear at The Glennie school; that is inspiring our girls to Be All they can be, to learn through engagement and taking challenges, to learn how to be critical thinkers, to learn myriad skills such as analysing, evaluation and creative thinking, all of which can be transferred to numerous contexts.  

A great example of a student who has risen to a challenge and achieved reward, as a result, is Bella Joseland (Yr 12). I would like to share with you the story she wrote which won her a prestigious Heywire award and the opportunity to attend the annual Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra. Heywire is a competition where people aged 16 to 22 living in regional Australia can submit a story about life in Australia outside the major cities. It gives young Australians the opportunity to tell their story and allow their voice to be heard. Each winning story was recorded and featured on the ABC website and also the ABC Local Radio in early December.

I hear the UHF radio crackle in its leather case as the mustering helicopter flies overhead. The sound stirs a ripple of excitement through my whole body and I am grateful to be here on my horse and to be trucking our cows back home after so many tough years of drought; mustering them together, loading and moving from one agistment property to the next as the grass vanishes from each place, we’ve been just battling to keep our breeding stock alive. I’m freezing cold and completely wet from my workshirt to my socks but there’s just another 4km to walk the cows though the soaking rain - the rain we’ve been waiting for, for so long. I am heartbroken to look through the foggy, drizzle and see a little mickey calf with a dingo bite and chunk out of his back leg and a cow with a full udder and after birth searching for her calf, I eye off the fresh dingo tracks and know in my gut she won’t find her calf alive.

There is nothing more depressing than the drought and to watch the cottonseed get devoured by starving cattle as fast as I shovel it in the tubs, the cows are still hungry but I know that’s all they can have until tomorrow. At the second water I stop and notice a cow lying down, skin and bone and too weak to stand. I take a deep breath and reach for the gun, I know we have done all we can to keep her alive yet my eyes still well with tears as I am forced to point the barrel, pull the trigger and orphan her 2 week old calf. As I pull up at the last water hole I see a cow struggling to free herself from the bog, I once again hook up the snatch-em strap to the tow ball and drag her up the bank.

It’s a hard life on the land but if you ride out the tough times it is also very rewarding and I would not trade it for anything. Growing up out here in western Queensland is something that for many kids is only a dream. The biggest advantage is the wide open spaces and the close-knit communities. Not every pub has a man like Grimmo, an ex-truck driver who has taken the town on as his family. He’s always there for a yarn, to shout you an ice-cream and most importantly he makes anyone who walks in feel as if they belong.  

Living 30km from your closest neighbour is something that may seem completely unrealistic for people in the city however how I’ve grown up, distance is nothing and just becomes a part of life. Growing up in regional Australia I have gained a perspective about life. It is a unique gift that most will never understand; total value for family, friends, neighbours and community. Through it I have learned to cherish every moment.

I grew up on our family cattle property in the small community of Yaraka where our population of the town is smaller than the number of pets I owned. Just the same as all small communities in outback Australia, Yaraka has taught me everyone has to come together and pull their weight to get the job done. No matter the size of the task ahead, the most important thing is the bond between the people, the spirit they bring and the responsibly taken from such a young age. This truly is what I believe is so special about growing up on the land in rural Australia.

Bella addressed students at assembly last week and said of her experience in Canberra, ‘Over the course of the week we talked of the issues amongst rural and regional areas such as mental health, education in rural areas, not enough young Australians interested in agriculture and drug and alcohol abuse etc. We then split into seven groups depending on what we were most passionate about then aimed to develop ideas into a proposal that will create change in our local communities. Throughout the week we discussed our ideas with politicians, members of the public and people from each different department. They helped us to enhance and develop our idea for our pitch on the final day to the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal who may provide a $10 000 grant for our program if they believe it has a future.

The opportunities Heywire has given me are invaluable, and I believe it taught me two things: that I have a voice, and what my voice is! Thanks for listening and I encourage each and every one of you living in regional Australia to enter your story and may just be lucky enough to be part of Heywire 2018’.

Congratulations Bella and all the best for the outcome of the grant presentation!

Wishing you all a blessed and rewarding weekend and week ahead.

Mrs Kim Cohen

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